Lynn woman, unemployed for seven months, joins White House push for aid extension

A Lynn woman now in her seventh month of job-hunting attended a White House press conference Tuesday afternoon to join President Obama’s call to extend long-term unemployment benefits.

Vera Volk, 53, has been receiving $420 weekly in state benefits after losing her job at a biotech firm in May. The long-time biotech professional is among more than 1 million Americans whose unemployment insurance from the federal government expired Dec. 28.

Senate Democrats on Tuesday morning voted to move forward with a three-month extension of federal unemployment benefits, but the bill’s fate remains uncertain. Though the bipartisan proposal authored by Senators Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, and Dean Heller, a Nevada Republican, cleared a key procedural hurdle in the Senate, it faces an uphill battle in the House.

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At a meeting of Democrats on Dec. 5, Volk said unemployment benefits are her and her husband’s only source of appreciable income. Volk, who has Crohn’s disease, said a lack of benefits would harm her health because she will be forced to buy lower-quality foods, with ingredients she should not eat.

“This fear is keeping me from moving forward ... and from pursuing my job search,” she said.

“I’m not buying a T.V. every two years or every new gadget. I’ve already cut out health care,’’ Volk told the Globe on Tuesday. ``I’m barely making it through to the next week.”

Most Republican senators are opposed to plan to extend benefits for three months, arguing that it offers no way to pay for the $6.4 billion cost. A half-dozen GOP lawmakers sided with Democrats in the Senate vote, including Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Susan Collins of Maine.